“So what’s this all about, Gunter? What’s in Markarth?” Jenassa asked with her head on his shoulder. She absent-mindedly stroked the orc’s massive chest, while the carriage clottered along toward the western mountains. Gunter blushed black in the moonlight.
“Well,” he began, “I know you said you were going to quit your job as an assassin once you became my wife. So, I thought you might like to go on one last run before you hang up your poison pouch for good,” he said, wincing at the stupid expression he had once picked up in a book about assassins.
“That’s so sweet,” she purred. “What’s the target?”
Gunter told her about the first two quests he had lined up for them in Markarth. One was simple enough – a nice warm-up of killing a cave bear that had invaded the home of some unlucky family in the city. The second would be a little more complicated. Two weeks ago, Gunter had been busy unraveling the threads of a massive conspiracy involving the lost king of the Forsworn, a campaign of public assassinations, and an aged noble named Nepos the Nose who was behind the whole thing. They had sent thugs and even the City Guards after Gunter for his meddling, so he had laid low and stayed away from Markarth for a fortnight, but now he had all the pieces and he was coming back to finish things. He also had with him the best backup that anyone could ask for.
As they approached the Markarth stables, Gunter presented Jenassa a blade of exquisite Skyforge steel. “Like here,” he said as he removed the scabbard from his belt. “This is like what the Companions use and stuff.”
She eagerly accepted it and turned the blade over in her hand again and again. “This is a marvelous sword, Gunter,” she cooed as she sheathed it. She looked up at Gunter with her fierce, but ever cool eyes. “Let them come, my love. We shall show the weak and wicked the folly of their nuisance.”
Gunter nodded, smitten and honored by this woman, and he knew that he had chosen his mate well. “Yeah, let’s.”
It was just past midnight as they passed through the massive gates into the city of Markarth. Most of its citizens would be asleep in their beds of stone, but a couple of drunk stragglers loitered in and out of the Silver Blood Inn reeking of cheap Nordic beer and dirty dwarf jokes. Gunter and Jenassa tuned their senses to the hunt as Gunter led the way up the winding stone path to their first target. They came to a door that looked like every other in the city and Gunter consulted his map one last time. “This is it or something. You ready?” Jenassa drew the Skyforge sword and nodded once. Gunter took a deep breath and clasped the handle of the door. “Okay and stuff.”
He pushed open the door and peeked inside. There was the bear, all right. It was curled in front of the fireplace and took up nearly half of the goddamn living room. It perked up at the sound of the door and smell of the orc and in no time was standing at full height, a half dozen heads taller than Gunter. It released a hateful roar that rattled what dishes remained on the shelves. “Shiiiiiiit,” sang Gunter as he jumped into the room and tried to draw it toward him. He succeeded. The bear lunged at Gunter and Gunter dodged further and further backwards until he was nearly up against the corner of the room. Jenassa crept in and snuck up behind the bear as Gunter raised his hand out before him, closed his eyes tightly, and blasted a blue orb of energy right into the bear’s face. The creature, immediately stunned looked around, considering the orc, the dark elf, and the rest of its surroundings, and hobbled back to its space in front of the fire, let out a mighty yawn and curled up on the ground to go back to sleep. Jenassa looked questioningly at Gunter and said, “Calm spell?”
“Yeah,” Gunter said. The bear started snoring. “I like didn’t want you to get hurt and stuff.”
Jenassa sighed. “Oh, Gunter. You should know by now that I can take care of myself. Please, darling, I thought you brought me here to hunt.” Gunter burned dimly with shame and frustration. On the one hand, he had diffused a deadly encounter with expert arcane skill. On the other, he made his woman feel like a pussy. And on yet another, he had kept her from harm, and what in the hell was she complaining about?
“Sorry. Next time I’ll like not bail you out and stuff,” he said passive aggressively as he whipped out his Skyforge steel greatsword and swung it in a great angry arc over his head and lopped off the head of the sleeping bear.
“Gunter wait –” Jenassa began, but it was too late. The thick blood of the bear gushed out at once and splattered everything from the walls to the dishes, to the two young lovers, and even threatened to put out the fire in the hearth as it burned pungently off the cooking pot and filled the room with an acrid stench. Jenassa looked like she had just walked home through a bloodstorm. She looked angry enough that she just might. “Oh, Gunter, why?!” she cried. “This was supposed to be our most memorable night together before our wedding!” She wiped great smears of blood off her face and flicked them on the ground. Gunter didn’t know what to say, as his burning shame and frustration grew to a forest fire inside him that threatened to consume his heart, his brain, and his balls.
He put his hand out to touch the shoulder of his fiancee and she covered it with her own. “I’m like really sorry, uh.. honey,” he managed, and Jenassa, who looked like she had been about to cry looked at the orc wearing a deep frown braced by two giant pointy teeth and instead, broke into a smile.
“Gunter, your lower teeth make it look like you’re smiling no matter what. See? They curl up and they’re totally in the shape of a smile!” Gunter looked into the mirror by the dresser and frowned into it, seeing in its reflection a helmeted orc covered head to toe in streaming red blood, with a tall white ‘smile’ made by the concave curve of his massive lower incisors. He snorted, and the ‘smiling’ orc in the mirror snorted back. Jenassa laughed, and suddenly Gunter found himself laughing at Jenassa’s amusement, then the sight of himself laughing in the mirror, and soon both he and Jenassa were laughing and hooting and pointing at the headless bear on the floor and all the fucking blood on the walls until tears came down their blood-caked faces and they were holding each other again.
The fumes of the burning blood became too much to bear(!), and they left the residence, coughing and hacking as they continued to laugh wildly. They staggered down the torchlit street like a drunk couple holding and falling over one another as they made their way toward the inn to celebrate their kill over strong drinks, cleansing showers, and some well deserved comfort in a stone Markarthian bed. The next quest could wait until tomorrow.
…to be continued again and stuff…